I was listening to an interview on the CBC in my car. It was about Toronto’s Little India, now called Gerrard Indian Bazaar, how it started out by entrepreneurial South Asian immigrants and its recent gentrification.
I parked my car in Little Italy, my neighbourhood across town from Little India, and walked past two people conversing in a Spanish way more fluent than my own.
I’m a Toronto transplant, born and raised in Montreal to two Ethiopian immigrants of Armenian heritage. I speak both official languages of Canada, as well as Armenian and that far-from-fluent Spanish I mentioned earlier.
I live in a city of many Littles: Little India, Italy, Portugal, and even Malta. We have a Chinatown, a Koreatown, and a Greektown. There’s tapas, pasta, jerk chicken, and bannock all within a 10 block radius of one another.
And somehow this all works. I feel free to speak Armenian and espouse aspects of my culture with pride while embracing the culture of the country I was born in, my country. I, like my country, am a hybrid.
This is my Canada. It’s a country where many languages are spoken and cultures coexist, having historically been the first to adopt a policy on multiculturalism. It’s a country that wasn’t always tolerant and is making strides to correct and evolve from its past. It’s a country of immigrants, a country of indigenous peoples, a former colony. And today is its birthday.
Happy 150th Canada! It’s time to celebrate this momentous day in our history (which interestingly – and historically – has come with a lot of dissent) with my fellow Canadians, and everyone else is welcome too. That’s how we do in the Great White North! Our country is a medley of faces, cultures, languages, tastes, smells, and meteorological events (it’s going to rain today – BOO). But above all else? It’s awesome.